We eyed the bridge with trepidation. It was only logs lashed together and covered with a layer of slippery mud. Time to get out and walk while Paul eased the truck across.
At least it wasn’t far to the water below. Falling off wouldn’t kill anyone — unless the truck flipped over on its side as it fell, of course.
We were on our way to Hoe Dua – one of the most remote of the mountain villages we visit. The way here is difficult, mainly because of the bridges, but the road to Caanan has it beat for dangerous curves and narrow paths over cliffs. We can’t visit at all during rainy season, so we were especially happy to be able to visit a couple of Sundays ago.
It was a big celebration Sunday for them. They had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all in one. We made it across the perilous bridge and arrived safely in the little village of bamboo houses. We trekked up the hill to the church building.
Bags of rice were piled up in front of the desk that did duty as a pulpit. Tinsel garland brightened the bamboo room. And so did the faces of the people. That’s why we were there – for the people of the village.
They have no pastor, though our friend Jakaw frequently travels there to preach. They always greet us with such eagerness and joy. That day they packed into the one little room, sitting on the floor and on the porch outside. As a guest (especially as an “older” guest) I rated a chair – for which I was thankful. I can sit on the floor, but not comfortably for any length of time.
Paul preached a good message, as usual, and we heard many special songs as we always do on these occasions. It was a blessed time!
After the service we were asked to name one of the village babies. We are frequently given that honor. In light of the holidays, Paul gave this baby the name “Mary.” After he named her and prayed for her, we adjourned to one of the homes for lunch.
They are hunters in Hoe Dua and we enjoyed wild hog, along with squirrel and vegetables. It wasn’t turkey and dressing, but we appreciated that they gave us their best.
We met the pastor and some church leaders from a church from a nearby village. They are from the Karin tribe, and were impressed with Paul’s message. They asked if he would come and speak to their church, and we are hoping to work that out. We have worked with Lahu, Lisu, and Akha, but this is our first contact with the Karin people.
Afterwards we did medicine. Below left, you see Paul d0ing his job of taking blood pressures. The lady on the right of that picture is Lisu and is wearing traditional Lisu dress. In the picture below right, I am checking ears using my otoscope. I examined one person who complained of an earache, and everyone after that asked if I would look at theirs, too. I was happy to comply.
Since Christmas is not celebrated in this Buddhist land, the kids weren’t out of school last week. The time for gift-giving, feasting and time off is done, instead, at New Year’s. We decided on Friday, Dec. 30, as our day to celebrate, since the kids would be going to relatives in the mountains for a few days on Saturday.
We could hardly wait to give the kids the presents we had prepared for them! We usually buy a large group gift all the kids can enjoy and then buy them one personal gift apiece. This year we bought a portable basketball goal. They were thrilled! I think they liked their personal gifts, too, and they also were given several games in a gift package that arrived from the US the week before. All were a big hit.
We were blessed to have a big crowd of friends and helpers to join us. Besides Lek, Pann, Ika and their families, we also had Jacaw (seen in the picture on the left) and our Australian friend, Rusty (lower right). We drew numbers for a gift exchange among much hilarity. I drew a backpack, and Paul’s number turned out to be a pair of pink, Hello Kitty mugs. He graciously presented them to me.
We had a Thai grill for dinner, which everyone considers a big treat. The grills look like buckets with one side broken out. A special rack sits on top. You ladle broth and fat into the trough of the grill to cook some of the food and grill other pieces on the top.
Dinner was supplemented with fresh fruit and topped off with American desserts that I fixed as my contribution.
Then a few days of quiet as the kids left for their homes in the mountains. I had big plans for the days of quiet, but wound up sleeping through most of them. I had been fighting a cold for more than a week and finally had to concede defeat. I’m still not feeling well, but hope this time I am really on the mend.
The kids are coming home today, so it will be back to life as normal. We are praying that 2017 will be a year of walking obediently with our God, and that it will also be a year of fruitfulness for the ministry.
May the Lord bless each of you with a closer walk with Himself this year!